PGE Baltica engages Polish companies to build service base in Ustka
The start of construction of the operations and maintenance base, which will serve offshore wind farms, is an undertaking preceded by a months-long preparatory process. Already at this stage, it is necessary to hire contractors for the work necessary to carry out the investment. In the case of the preparation of the construction of the PGE Baltica operations and maintenance base in Ustka, the company has engaged Polish entities, which shows that domestic companies can successfully join the development of offshore wind energy in Poland.
The PGE Baltica base will be built in the western part of the Ustka port on an area covering part of a former fish processing plant. The service centre is to serve the ongoing monitoring of PGE’s wind farms in the Baltic, as well as planned and ad hoc repairs of offshore wind turbine components. Units with service crews and spare parts will depart from here. PGE Baltica also wants to build an Offshore Wind Energy Competence Center at the site, where, among other things, future service technicians will be trained.
The key to good investment preparation
Before selecting and purchasing a suitable property with access to the wharf, the investor checks whether the location is best for the realization of a service base. However, before construction work can begin, it is necessary to plan all the necessary analyses and studies of the land to be used for the future service base, carry out an inventory of the site, carefully assess the capabilities of the selected location in terms of the tasks it is to fulfil, so as to make optimal use of the available property area.
Along the way, the investor announces purchasing procedures and selects the companies that will carry out the project for him – from preparatory and analytical work, through the contractor for the conceptual design and site development project, to the construction project contractor, contract engineer and general contractor, who, after obtaining a building permit, will begin the actual construction work.
Research for efficient navigation and operational capabilities
The preparation of a service port construction project must be preceded by thorough studies conducted throughout the port area. Among other things, it is necessary to analyze the maritime access infrastructure, which will accurately determine the parameters prevailing on the approach to the port and inside the port channel, which directly affects the navigational capabilities of the port in question.
At the port wharves, there will be a permanent vigilance of several vessels, which sometimes have to sail to the wind farm area in emergencies. It is in terms of efficient navigation and operational capabilities that the port must be properly prepared. This research work is being carried out for PGE Baltica by the Institute of Hydraulic Engineering of the Polish Academy of Sciences in Gdansk.
Among other things, the scientists are studying wave action, changes in water levels inside the port, sea currents and associated sediment transport for us. They check how local natural conditions will affect the designed hydrotechnical facilities. They determine the parameters necessary to plan maintenance and investment works that improve the conditions in a given port and make it possible to increase the availability of a given infrastructure,” says Tomasz Wisniewski, senior project manager for port investments at PGE Baltica. – Among other things, the possibility of building wave absorbers or breakwaters is being investigated. These could reduce wave action inside the entire port channel. This could allow for an increase in the potential related to the number of berths for service vessels in the port and safe navigation inside the port channel during adverse weather conditions at sea. The effect of these tasks will influence the final scope and shape of the operations and service base project, Tomasz Wisniewski adds.
Specialists will be trained in the building of the “old netting plant”
A comprehensive inventory of the site’s existing condition, consisting of more than a dozen volumes of documentation, was prepared for PGE Baltica by Antea Polska S.A., a company that specializes in engineering and environmental consulting. The facilities to be inventoried included buildings and typical port elements, including wharves, former production halls, and buildings of the so-called old and new networks. The result of the inventory will be documentation that will allow for the necessary maintenance activities and the implementation of preparatory work.
The contractor has carried out soil surveys, which did not reveal contamination of the site. He has also gathered the documentation necessary to apply for permission to begin work on the objects to be demolished. At the same time, it should be noted that the demolition will not include the building of the old grid plant. In this large, very characteristic, historic building we plan to eventually create a center of competence where new solutions for offshore wind energy will be tested. Specialists for the operation of offshore wind farms will also be trained there,” says Maciej Bałchanowski, construction expert at PGE Baltica.
Best concept selected
Another entity providing services on behalf of PGE Baltica is the Wuprohyd design office from Gdynia, which specializes in designing port infrastructure and hydro-technical structures. The contractor will carry out the design of a complex of office and social facilities and a spare parts warehouse, together with land development and complete above- and underground infrastructure (including electrical, telecommunications and sanitary installations), which are elements of the future operations and maintenance base.
The project team will also conduct, among other things, studies on land, in water and in laboratories, which are expected to allow the adaptation and reconstruction of wharves for the base. The result of the multi-variant analyses will be a set of design documentation that will enable the initiation of a tender procedure for the selection of a general construction contractor.
Out of three variants of the land development concept, taking into account the division of the property into various functions, the company has chosen the one that allows the port area to be best adapted to the needs of servicing offshore wind farms, while at the same time fitting in with the port’s current development and its tourist character. Construction work is scheduled to begin in 2024.
The port will get a new face
The design work is being carried out in stages. We have made a detailed analysis of the possibilities of developing our property. We have determined the areas intended for particular functions along with their key parameters. On this basis, several variants for the use of available space were created. After conducting a multi-criteria analysis, we selected what we consider to be the optimal plan for the development of the land and the layout of the cubature facilities,” explains Ernest Lewandowski, port investment expert at PGE Baltica. – We are currently at the stage of developing documentation that will form the basis for the construction project. In addition, the contractor is preparing for us, among other things, a description of the technical parameters of the equipment necessary to fully utilize the potential of the operations and maintenance base, he enumerates.
The port area in the western part of Ustka will change its face in the next few years. The investment in the service and operations base will revitalize the port area, which has been unused for the past several decades. A modern infrastructure necessary for the efficient operation of the service centre will be built on the site of the former fishing company. PGE Baltica has hired Polish companies that proved to be the best in the tendering procedures to prepare for its construction. Subsequent tenders will select a general contractor, among others. This will be another opportunity for companies from the region to participate in the construction of one of the offshore wind farm projects.